Indictment: Arkansas ex-judge exchanged nudes for tossed cases

Author: Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A former Arkansas judge accused of giving lighter sentences to defendants in exchange for nude photos and sexual acts was arrested Monday on federal fraud and bribery charges.

Former Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann appeared disheveled during an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Little Rock that was held shortly after the federal indictment was unsealed.

Wearing jeans and a button-down shirt while shackled at the waist, Boeckmann pleaded not guilty and answered yes or no questions from the judge. The 70-year-old was ordered held until a detention hearing on Wednesday.

Boeckmann resigned in May after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with men accused of crimes dating back decades to his time as a prosecutor. He allegedly had more than 4,600 photos of nude or semi-nude men.

A grand jury accused Boeckmann of corruptly using his official position as an Arkansas district judge “to obtain personal services, sexual contact, and the opportunity to view and to photograph in compromising positions persons who appeared before him in traffic and misdemeanor criminal cases in exchange for dismissing the cases.” The indictment is dated Oct. 5.

Boeckmann’s attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday. Boeckmann has previously denied the allegations through his attorney.

Boeckmann was indicted on eight counts of wire fraud, two counts of witness tampering, one count of federal program bribery and 10 counts of violating the federal Travel Act. The most severe charges carry a maximum sentence if convicted of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fines.

Dozens of men have accused Boeckmann of sexual abuse and misconduct, saying the small-town judge paid them to allow him to spank them with a paddle and to take photos of the red skin. Others said they posed nude in exchange for money to pay off court fines.

Others, some of whom were underage, said Boeckmann would offer them community service in lieu of court fines and fees. The assignments often involved going to his house or another location, taking off their shirts, bending over and pretending to pick the cans up while, they allege, Boeckmann took photos.

The head of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which conducted the initial investigation, has called the allegations “if not the worst, among the worst cases of judicial misconduct” in state history.

The case brought into the open gossip that had circulated in private for years about the judge, who is from a prominent family that settled in the farming community of Wynne, about 100 miles east of Little Rock, more than a century ago.

An Associated Press investigation into court and law enforcement records in June showed that of the 254 men Boeckmann sentenced to community service over a seven-year period in one of three districts he oversaw, just 13 of the cases include timesheets and court records showing completion of the sentences.

The commission’s investigation also included allegations that Boeckmann failed to recuse himself from overseeing cases involving relatives and at least one defendant who listed the former judge as his employer when he appeared before the court. The commission also submitted evidence that Boeckmann had written checks from private accounts to pay attorneys who had appeared in his court.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.